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The 60's Live in Haight-Ashbury District
The 60's Age of Aquarius is still going on in parts of the SF Bay Area. Haight-Ashbury certainly can give you reminders of those days of flower children & the peace movement. The same is true in downtown Berkeley on certain streets & in Marin County in Fairfax. You'll see tie-dyed clothes and crystal shops as well as some homeless people. Don't be afraid to stop & look in some of the more interesting shops in the Haight-Ashbury area. There are some good restaurants there, too. The neighborhood is a little neglected these days, but still represents the 60's revolution.
- Historical Travel
Going to Haight Street is a bit like stepping into a time machine. The atmosphere there is much more 1960's than early 21st century. There are actually people, hippies, handing out political flyers on the street who have been doing so for over 40 years. Haight Street is also the home of many, many cool shops and restaurants including anarchist book stores, coffee houses, head shops, and unique clothing boutiques. The characters on the street are also great material for people watching. You will find everyone here from the aforementioned hippes and punk rockers sporting green mohawks, to goth students looking for a handout of loose change.
As you may know, Haight Street was once the home of such 60's rock icons as Janis Joplin and The Greatful Dead. The houses they lived in are still standing and marked out front with plaques for those interested in seeing them.
I was in San Franciso one week after Grateful Dead singer, Jerry Garcia's, death, so Haight was loaded with mourning Deadheads paying their final respects with one last roadtrip.
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
The Red Vic
No trip to Haight Street would be complete without catching a film at the Red Vic. All through the 80's and 90's the Red Vic packed 'em in for everything from first run movies to the wierdest art films imaginable. Famed for it's comfy couches and homemade munchies, it was originally located in the ground floor of the Red Victorian B&B two blocks down (hence the name). The B&B's owner - Sami Sunchild - yep, that's really her name - decided she wanted to expand and the Red Vic had to go. It opened up shop in a defunkt nightclub called the Full Moon - where it sits today.
The couches are gone - replaced by "couch-style" seating, but the vibe of the place remains. This place is a true Haight Street original and if you're going to see a movie then this is the best place in the city to go to (with the possible exception of the Castro Theater).
Be sure to get the popcorn with butter and brewers' yeast. Yum!
Where Did the Flower Children Go???
Being a fan of the Grateful Dead, I was really looking forward to visiting this area, though overall was dissappointed. I would agree with a couple other comments on Haight Ashbury that it seemed over-commercialized. It's interesting, though, to see a Ben and Jerry's on the corner of H-A. On one hand there is a "Cherry Garcia" flavor; however the store just seems out of place. If I had it to do over, I would have done some research and found out where the Dead once resided (710 Ashbury) and would have visited just there before moving on to other things. If you are not interested in the 60's scene, then there's probably not much here of interest.
Shopping and Imagining
There are so many cool stores around here. I found it was best to start with Amoeba Records and work your way towards Ashbury. And I always enjoy imagining what it was like back in the day without all the commercialism that's built up.
Love and Haight
Isn't it ironic that the Summer of Love started in the Haight? By the way, that's called a pun for those of you who don't know. By the way that's awful sarcasm. By the way that's self-deprecation. By the way, this place is still full of aging hippies. It's a bit like Camden Town in a way, all the colorful shopfronts and stuff. The best place though is Amoeba Records, a huge record shop where I saw - I can barely believe it myself - the Butcher cover version of Yesterday and Today by the Beatles! I could not believe it. I have looked for this record all my life. It was a thousand bucks. Angela thinks I'm saving for our wedding...
No Hate in the Haight
This is the ultra liberal grungy artistic area that represents anti-everything culture. Some argue hippiedom was created here, and here it stays. This is a photo of the car art parade. One of the many interesting things that happens here on a daily basis.
Upper Haight is the spot to go for the ultimate selection of vintage clothing stores, crackheads, and overpriced shoes. At the end of Haight (across the street from Cala Foods) is Amoeba, the most kick ass record store in the world. You can find anything there that was ever recorded. Go to Aadvarks for a great selection of vintage fashion. Stop at the International Cafe for a coffee and sandwich and listen to their jazz band rock out. A warning: don't ever buy anything off people on the street, I have heard lots of horror stories.
The Haight, as many people call it, was the epicenter of hippie culture in the Summer of Love and thereafter. Everyone who was anyone passed through here - or sometimes stayed several years. Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane all lived here - as did Marshall McLuhan, on a more intellectual level.
The Haight still attracts it share of hippies, but in truth most of them are hangers-on or wannabes these days, trying to recapture some of the moondust of the late 1960s, and usually failing.
There are plenty of odd-looking characters hanging around the streets and the nearby sections of Golden Gate park (many cafes and restaurants have signs making clear that people who aren't spending aren't generally welcome). Although it's a bit of a time warp, there are still lots of funky stores around here, offering the latest in wild costumes, or the funkiest in European shoes, and there's a steady stream of shoppers, many from out of town. There's also no shortage of places to stop in, have a coffee, and contemplate the world before you venture into the park to be offered 'nice buds, man' by the various characters who wander its paths.
Ex Hippy neighborhood
Haight Ashbury used to be the hippy heighborhood. There are beautiful victorian houses all around. It's full of really trendy and expensive stores (clothes and shoes). There are also some used clothes stores. The people all around are very diverse, like nearly everywhere in SF.
The intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets in central San Francisco was once a derilect zone, filled with old, crumbling Victorians housing the city's lower class. In the 1950s, students from then-nearby San Francisco State College took over the neighborhood because of low rents. The Beatniks followed from their old haunts in North Beach, claiming that area was becoming far too expensive. In the late 1960s, when the Vietnam War waged on the other side of the world and anti-establishment opinions were gaining popularity with San Francisco's youth, this neighborhood absolutely exploded with Flower Power.
The neighborhood became the virtual headquarters to iconic bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. People dropped by on visits (some of them permanently) for free drugs, free love, the Be-In and the 1967 Summer of Love. But by the early 1970s, Flower Power had become rotten. Once celebrated, drugs became a scurge. The artists left. Charles Manson gave the neighborhood a bad rap. Plus the sour economic 70s didn't help either. The 1970s left Haight-Ashbury much like it was in the '40s and early '50s--a ghetto.
But revival began in the late '70s and continues to this day. Today, "the Haight" as most Californians know it, is one of the most fashionable areas of San Francisco. Rents are shockinly high (no respectable hippie could hardly afford it today). Shops as diverse (and corporate) as the Gap and Ben & Jerry's are here too, plus Amoeba Records, one of America's largest independent record stores. Plus you won't find many hippies here either; instead, you'll find more punks, goths, cell-phoned yuppies and tourists here than hippies. The '60s are gone forever, and so are many of this area's previous inhabitants.
Although you won't find the '60s alive and well here, you will find various historical spots that contributed to counterculture movement. Also, the shops here are also very interesting to go through.
The Haight overall is a cool place to check out and hang out for a few hours
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
The Swinging 60's
The corner of Haight and Ashbury Streets is the undisputed epicentre of the 60's revolution. The grateful dead house is down the street and Janis Joplin was a frequent visitor. John Lennon has lived here.
Golden Gate park is a mere 5 minute walk, where haight street ends the park starts.
Take in a flicker at the Red Vic Movie House!
This little tiny dinky theater is smack dab in the Haight. This place plays movies like:
Delicatessen, Willy Wonka, Poltergeist & Run Lola Run. Ok, not only is that cool but there are little couches to sit on, and they serve coffee in mugs and popcorn in bowls. The staff is very rugged and committed to a very unique movie going experience. I must say, that I have had no problems bringing in beers.
My favorite moment at the Red Vic: every Christmas day (if I’m in town) I roll and nice fat joint and head out to the Red Vic for a matinee of Harold and Maude. Some how this always this puts everything right for me.
Two big thumbs up for the Red Vic!
- Theater Travel
Most people come to this former Mecca for all hippies to see the home at 710 Ashbury Street that used to be the residence of The Grateful Dead. Whatever your impetus for coming, once you're here you'll discover that 'the Haight,' as it's often called, is still a diverse and eclectic place that is full of counter culture charm as well as some traditions such as Victorian homes and classic rock and roll.
When many people think of San Francisco, they think back to the music and people that started the phenomenon that was 1967's Summer of Love. The golden age of hippiedom had made San Francisco its epicentre, and the Haight District was its golden, utopic, peace-loving capital. Famed for the Haight-Ashbury intersection which was taken over by the Summer of Love participants in '67, the neighbourhood has gone from quiet streetcar suburb to raucous centre of activism to a depressed centre of punk culture and now a mainly yuppie area with an 'alternative' theme. Tourists hoping to catch a glance at counterculture will likely gawk at the anarchist bookstore and the longhaired beggars still railing against the Vietnam War. They'll also notice the famed intersection is now anchored by a Gap and a Ben & Jerry's. But even if they can't afford to live in the Haight's bright Victorians, among the best examples of San Francisco's vernacular architectural style, the city's countercultural elements still gather here among the smoke shops, record stores, and other interesting shops and organisations that still call this portion of Haight Street home. Of interests are the Victorian mansions where bands the Greatful Dead and Jefferson Airplane once lived, and the Red Victorian (pictured), a 60's themed bed and breakfast. Don't expect to see much tiedie even around these locations, however, like most San Franciscans, those that hang out in the Haight wear mainly black, and this new breed of counterculturalist is more for violent disruption of order than peaceful togetherness.
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